holiday party

Happy Hanukkah!

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Today is the first day of Hanukkah! It’s one of my favorite Jewish holidays because you get to light candles every night. Here’s a little round-up of favorite Forest Feast Hanukkah recipes:

Also, if you are in San Francisco tomorrow (Wed. 12/17/14), please join us for a Hanukkah party at Umami Mart SF (my favorite kitchen and barware shop) from 6-8pm. More info here, all are welcome! We’ll be serving latkes and lager and I’ll be signing cookbooks if you want to pick some up for holiday gifts!

Thanksgiving Appetizers in Santa Barbara

I’m always looking for easy, tasty holiday party hors d'oeuvres, and these Pesto Puffs were a hit last weekend at my family’s Thanksgiving celebration in Santa Barbara. 

Every year we head to my aunt and uncle’s beach house for a weekend of cooking, eating, and surfing. My job is always to prepare appetizers for everyone to sample as we cook all afternoon. These puffs were easy to make ahead and they work warm or at room temperature. The cheese has a tendency to ooze out a bit when they are baked, so use a baking sheet with a rim. A couple of my cousins were on cocktail duty: there was a big pitcher of spicy Bloody Marys in the morning, and at cocktail hour my cousin walked around with a tray of Manhattans and adorable Apple Cider cocktails garnished with cinnamon sticks. Before dinner, all the ladies take an annual walk to collect flowers, bark, leaves and vines to decorate the table, and then we eat at sunset. When I was in college, I lived just a couple blocks away…ever since then, I’ve decided it’s my favorite place on earth- can’t wait to go back!

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View from the deck at my aunt & uncle's house

View from the deck at my aunt & uncle's house

I have no idea how to cook a turkey (just pretending here!!) I stick to the veggies. Bottom right: my cousin Vanessa passes out Apple Cider cocktails.

I have no idea how to cook a turkey (just pretending here!!) I stick to the veggies. Bottom right: my cousin Vanessa passes out Apple Cider cocktails.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Other holiday party appetizer ideas:

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Cucumber Caprese Bites

Radishes with Butter

Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider

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On my recent trip to Spain, I bought these adorable Moroccan tea glasses in Granada, sold all over the city because of its Moorish history. I drink a lot of tea during the week, but when hosting a holiday party, I like to make a big pot of cider. It makes the house smell so cozy as guests walk in.

Did you know that the word granada means pomegranate in Spanish?! I learned this as I saw pomegranate trees full of fruit growing all over the Granada- so amazing. Because of this, I was inspired to add fresh pomegranates to cider. I simmered apple juice, pomegranate juice and spices, then garnished each cup with fresh pomegranate seeds and an apple slice decorated with cloves. I think this would be a fun after-dinner drink on Thanksgiving Day to cozy up by the fire with (plus, it can be spiked with bourbon for the adults!).

For the recipe, click on over to my full post (with more photos!) on the Better Homes & Gardens website.

Cheers…And Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Photos & Illustration by Erin Gleeson